Wed, Feb 14, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Bus bombs in Lebanon go off on anniversary

AFP , AIN ALAK, LEBANON

Bomb blasts tore through two buses in Lebanon yesterday, killing three people as the deeply divided nation prepared to commemorate the murder of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri two years ago.

The bombings in a mainly Christian area northeast of Beirut were the latest in a spate of attacks that have been blamed on Lebanon's former powerbroker Syria and came at a time of high political tensions in Lebanon.

"This is another terrorist attempt to exert control over Lebanon with blood and repression," charged Minister of Social Affairs Nayla Moawad, a member of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority.

The state news agency said the first explosion took place at 9:30am in a minibus full of passengers and just seven minutes later another minibus was blown up.

The police spokesman added, "Initial reports show that explosive charges were placed inside the buses."

Earlier reports had said as many as 12 people were killed in what Lebanese President Emile Lahoud described as a "massacre."

"It is a clear attempt to foil all internal, regional and international efforts to achieve Lebanese national unity," the Damascus-backed leader said, calling on all Lebanese to "stand united" in the face of the attack.

It comes on the eve of ceremonies in Beirut to mark the second anniversary of the killing of billionaire five-time prime minister Hariri, the subject of a UN probe that has pointed the finger of blame at Syria.

The anniversary of Hariri's assassination also falls six months to the day since a UN-brokered ceasefire brought an end to a blistering war between Israel and Hezbollah.

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